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Brand positioning: How to position eco-friendly brands - Conquer the market

October 13, 2018
Szymon Zurek
10 min
graphic showing an eco-friendly computer devices

Brand positioning: How to position eco-friendly brands - Conquer the market

This is a guide on how to position eco-friendly brands. For those who already know marketing well, there will be ‘advice and pitfalls’ (which will be very specific to this industry) section near the end of the article.

How to market an eco-friendly brand

Understand the marketplace and customer needs.

This one is pretty straightforward. Basically, you need to verify whether your product is in demand. There are four different product release types in marketing:

Market penetration

This is the most common product release type in the ecological industry. Basically, you are penetrating an existing market with an existing product. In our case, as we are discussing eco-friendly brands, a good product that illustrates this could be a bamboo cotton bud. These cotton buds have been on the market for years, however, with an increase in demand as the ecological market grows, there is a lot of opportunities for you to tune into that market. When penetrating the market, the best strategy is to look at your competitors and if possible, experience them in the first person. Be very critical on what they could improve. Keep those critiques to yourself, however, as that is what you will use against them.

A quick example here would be how my client purchased these bamboo cotton buds that claimed to be eco-friendly, however, they came in a plastic package. He used this against his competitors (amongst other things) and now is a top seller in eco-friendly bamboo cotton buds on the UK Amazon. Checkout the the brand identity design that was made for him: Packaging Bamboo Tongs & Packaging Cotton Bamboo Buds. ( or see them in the portfolio )

Market development

In this case, we are developing a new market for an existing product. This is an uncommon strategy for product releases and a good way in how to market an eco-friendly brand, however, when done right it can really get you some big profits as you are the only one serving that particular market. In our particular case in the ecology industry, an easy to think of the unserved market is children.

Product development

Here we are developing, creating or re-creating a product for an existing market. Think of products that you can put your own spin to. For example, let’s use the bamboo cotton buds. How can we make them different, but keep people from the ecological market interested? Can we add any new features? Maybe we could offer them in different colours and sizes so people are interested in the newness of the product and how it differs from the competition. Always keep in mind though, how does the feature you are adding give value to the customer?

Diversification

The last of product release types is diversification. Basically, you are combining market development and product development meaning that you are providing a new product for a new market (a complete opposite of market penetration). Let’s use the bamboo cotton buds as an example again. Think of one of the features I suggested for developing the product and an unserved market I mentioned. Suddenly we have these new, colourful and small bamboo cotton buds for children. New product – check. New market – also check.

– “Hey mom, can I have these rainbow earbuds to clean my ears? Oh, look! It’s eco-friendly”

How to position an eco-friendly brand

Step 2

Design a customer-driven marketing strategy.

As you are in the ecological industry, half of the work is already done for you. In this step, you need to identify who your target audience is and how you will deliver value to them.

I say that half of the work is done for you as the industry (by nature) targets like-minded people – AKA – “save the earth”. This means that a lot of your market segment is already defined by habits, behaviours and thinking patterns (psychography). However, it is still important to identify other aspects such as demographics and geographics – something that should be relatively easy if you already have a product in mind.

Once you 100% know who your target customer is, think about how you can deliver value to them. Let’s use the bamboo cotton buds as an example again. Remember how my client added value to his customers? That’s right, he eliminated plastic packaging – something his competitors did not do. Think of ways to give superior value to your customers. It does not necessarily have to relate to the physical product. Maybe it is your exceptional social skills which help you establish a personal relationship. Maybe its something about your service or way of delivery that people see value in.

How to position an eco-friendly brand

When you know what you are selling and to whom you are selling, it is time to discuss how you are selling.

This will be very general and vague because this really depends on what you are selling. Nevertheless, you still need to consider some very important questions.

What channel will you use to sell your product from?

Do your friends have an eco-friendly shop? Do you want to go countrywide in retail stores? Maybe you want to sell online through your own website or other sites such as Amazon.

How do you want people to see your brand?

Do you want to be provocative, intrusive and loud? Do you want people to see that your brand really wants to change the world and you show your activity in environmental causes/events? Maybe you just want your brand to be friendly and passive bringing those people on board who don’t like confrontation? When you choose your position and message, be sure to stick to it.

How much do you mention that you are an eco-friendly brand?

Neither too much or too little will serve you any good. Many people new to marketing go overboard and on every-step possible mention how eco-friendly they are. This is a no-no! Keep it subtle, your customers aren’t stupid and hopefully can recognise eco-friendly design. The design aesthetic of your brand identity should represent eco-friendliness very well, to the point where you only need to state facts about your brand. Think of an eco-friendly t-shirt brand. Their brand identity design should already reflect their purpose, so what kind of information is behind the scenes? 100% sustainable material. All made from cotton. Coloured with natural inks. Delivered in biodegradable packaging etc… This is the kind of information you should use when marketing your brands eco-friendliness.

How to market an eco-friendly brand – ‘advice and pitfalls’

First of all, to avoid any big mistakes, ask your target market of their opinion. Ideally, you would want some friends who are within your target market so that you get a reliable source of insight to how your customers think. Even if you yourself are an environmentalist, it is always good to see things from another perspective.

  • By this point, you probably know but is your packaging eco-friendly?
  • Do you deliver your product in eco-friendly ways (i.e. electric vehicles)?
  • Are you wasting a lot of materials?
  • Could you utilise recycling?
  • Could you support a charity or be involved in any eco-friendly events?
  • Are your employees aligned with the purpose of your business? (this is a big one)
  • Are your business partners aligned with the purpose of your business?
  • Are you wanting to create a change? (if not, don’t get into this industry. People will smell your BS from miles)

How to position an eco-friendly brand – Conclusion

Think of the purpose of your product and if there is value in it. Think who is your market beyond just environmentalist and think on how you can maximize your eco-friendliness to your advantage.

This was just a general and small snippet of information on marketing. If you would like to ask any questions go ahead and post them in the comments. If you want me to go more in depth with you, you can book a one on one consultancy session by contacting me.

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